Sunday, July 5, 2009

GBL - Drinkin'

A few months ago, I introduced to the virtual world one of the more cramped displays in our store, the twelve shelves on the landing of our main stairs we call the GBL. (That post, about our Literary Feuds display, can be found here.) (Don't think too hard about what GBL means. It's not something we can divulge to the general public.)

Before I blacked out from yesterday's holiday drinking, I got thinking, in an admittedly muddled sort of way, about another of our GBL shelves, which for lack of imagination we call simply the Drinkin' display.

Writers have long been known to drown their angst in the bottle. And some writers have a lot of angst. Our national literature is full of plastered heroes: Jack London wrote a book called John Barleycorn which documented his lifelong problem with hooch; Hemingway, apparently, could go head-to-head with the more prolific of his characters, one of whom downed three martinis and a few bottles of wine before lunch; and then of course there's Edgar Allen Poe, John Cheever, Sinclair Lewis, Eugene O'Neill, John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac, Dorothy Parker, Hunter S. Thompson... Well, you get the point.

So, in celebration of (er...) the besotted, we've lined up seven books written by or featuring (or both) stumbling drunks:

Appointment in Samarra: John O'Hara's classic novel of Julian English's swift and terrible decline, featuring the infamous scene in which English throws his drink in another man's face.

Frederick Exley's savage indictment of the 1950s and one of Pete's favorites, A Fan's Notes.

In the Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler wrote: "Alcohol is like love. The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl's clothes off."

My personal demon isn't booze, but it's a book about booze: Under the Volcano.

No list like this would be complete without the work of Charles Bukowski (pictured above) who once wrote that "Drinking is an emotional thing." We chose Factotum as a fair representative of his alcoholic genius.

Naturally, we can't ignore my people, the Irish:

Of Flann O'Brien's novel, At-Swim-Two-Birds, Dylan Thomas said: "This is just the book to give your sister – if she's a loud, dirty, boozy girl."

Finally, there's A Drink With Shane MacGowan. The collage below (via J-Walk Blog) says it all:


Anonymous said...

How do you have an ode to the besotted and only have one Irish author represented?

Roman said...

Shane MacGowan... the ugliest man alive.

Anonymous said...

I count two: Shane MacGowan and Flann O'Brien...